According to the calendar, this weekend we’re supposed to get an extra hour of sleep as daylight savings time ends…tell that to our kids!
It’s not my favorite time of year because so many already sleep deprived parents now have children waking earlier than normal and they’re getting even less sleep than before. Children tend to wake up around the same time each day, so even adding another hour doesn’t make them sleep later and frankly, parents get anxious as the time change date gets closer. My best advice for parents to help their children adjust to the time change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time to gradually change their bedtime and naps (if they still do) over the course of a week to get them “back” to the new time. Here are a few tips to help you all adjust, starting this weekend.
Saturday night: Do nothing! Leave your clocks alone. Enjoy your evening and get some sleep that night.
Sunday morning: Have a relaxing family breakfast and then go around the house and change any clocks that haven’t changed already. No, I don’t know how to change the time on your oven…that would require a whole separate post.
How do you do it?
Infants – If you have a baby with a predictable bedtime and naps (usually over 6 months old), move bedtime 15 minutes later every 1-2 nights until you reach the normal time again. For example, if baby’s normal bedtime is 7pm, put baby to bed at 6:15 p.m on Sunday night, Monday night at 6:30 p.m., and so on. On the 4th night (Wednesday night), you should be back to 7:00 p.m.
Do the same thing for naps. Start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them 15 minutes later each day. For example, if morning nap is at 9:00 a.m. normally, start with 8:15 a.m. on Sunday, 8:30 a.m. on Monday, 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday and then 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Do the same thing for the afternoon nap.
If their bedtime and nap-times are not predictable (0–6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone and use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide. With more hours of darkness, it helps make this transition a little easier on them. If your child wakes up too early, help your child to learn it isn’t time to get up by keeping him or her in their crib in the dark room until normal wake time.
Toddlers- If you have a toddler (12 months and older), put your child to bed 30 minutes earlier than your old bedtime on Sunday. For example, if your child’s normal bedtime is 7:00 p.m., you would put them down at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night (Wednesday), put your child to bed at 7:00 p.m.
For naps, put your child to bed for the 1st nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if your child naps usually at 9:30 a.m. put him/her down at 9:00 a.m. You would do the same with the afternoon nap if your child takes an afternoon nap.
School Age Children– If you have a child that no longer takes a nap, simply put them to bed 30 minutes earlier than their normal bedtime on Sunday night. Do this for 3 nights, then on the 4th night put your child to bed at the normal time, 7:00 p.m. or whatever is the normal bedtime for your child.
Note for Toddlers/School-aged children: If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock (Here’s my favorite) to know when it’s time to get out of bed, set the clock 30 minutes ahead on Sunday. Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 according to the clock but it will be 6:30 a.m., new time) and then after 1-2 weeks, change the clock to read the correct time. This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 a.m. time in 1-2 weeks.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, but this is to be expected and your child might seem tired earlier in the evening. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time. Some children can take a little longer, but be patient and consistent with your schedule. Hang in there, parents!
Christine Stevens is the owner of Sleep Solutions by Christine. Have questions about your child’s sleep, want to know about different methods to help your child fall asleep easily or how to end bedtime battles with your child? She offers a free 15-minute call with her to learn more about her sleep services and talk about your situation. Contact her today and be sleeping all night soon!